Yellow Pages to Interwebs — The Evolution of Search

 In Business, Search Engines

Whatever happened to the Yellow Pages? You may still receive a copy in the mail once a year, or you may have filled out the form to no longer receive it, but chances are you never use it. Internet users have all the information they need at their fingertips and it”s called Google. Google is so good, in fact, that you don”t even have to enter a city. Simply type in what you”re searching for and you”ll be provided with local results. Let”s take a closer look at how the internet replaced the Yellow Pages.

Early Online Business Searches

While the first online searches for local businesses did require entering a bit more information than today, it was still easier than dragging out the phone book. All you had to do was enter your search query, such as “plumber Houston Texas”, and results would come up with plumbers in that area. As businesses became advanced in their search engine optimization skills, you may have even gotten results for plumbers in cities surrounding your area because these plumbers used the same keywords you had entered on their site. As the internet evolved, so too did searches.

Localized Searches

In the mid 2000s, Google started allowing users to add a location to their profile that allowed them to search for local businesses without having to enter their city. For example, a user in Houston that needed a plumber, would simply search for plumbers. Google would then display business information for those businesses that had addresses in the same area or had used keywords to make their business appear online casino in the results. While this was fascinating to users at the time, searches were about to go one step further in eliminating the need for phone books.

Personally I remember using this localized feature when searching for pizza when it first came out. I remember thinking in the back of my mind, “What the…ohh, that”s how they did that. Cool! Now do I want mushrooms or extra cheese?”

Smartphone GEO Searches

Thanks to smartphones, you can now download a number of apps that will tell you where the closest business is. For example, if you”re hungry, you can use an app to find out where the nearest Mexican restaurant is. If you have Google Maps on your phone, you can then get quick driving directions to follow. In other words, GEO searches are smarter than any phone book could ever hope to be, giving you information based on your current location.

Pile of Yellow Page Books

Pile of Yellow Page Books. pic by Frank Hebbert via Creative Commons

The Yellow Pages was a useful tool to have around up until the internet came along. Now, you can find the information you need in a matter of minutes. Of course, if you”re feeling nostalgic, you can always visit the Yellow Pages website.

Your Turn: Do you still use the paper yellow pages? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

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